California: Prescribing abortion pills to out-of-state patients may get new protections
California doctors and pharmacists who prescribe or dispense abortion pills to out-of-state patients will get new legal protections under a recently proposed bill, SB345. It would prevent healthcare providers who are legally performing their jobs in California from facing prosecution in another state or being extradited — a growing concern as more states move to criminalise abortion and other reproductive healthcare. The bill is similar to ones being put forward in Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut and Maryland.
It would also provide legal protections for healthcare workers in California prescribing or dispensing contraception or gender-affirming care, no matter a patient’s geographic location. “We wouldn’t have to do this if states weren’t criminalizing essential healthcare,” said State Senator Nancy Skinner. The measure would not cover doctors who travel outside of California to provide healthcare nor provide legal protections for the out-of-state patients receiving abortion pills in the mail from California providers as it would be outside California’s jurisdiction. Skinner said there had been a wave of attacks on trans people and in connection to reproductive rights in the last year.
SOURCE: LA Times, by Grace Toohey, 17 March 2023
North Dakota: Fundamental right to abortion vs. misogyny and violating the rule of law
The North Dakota Supreme Court has backed a Bismarck (state capital) judge’s decision to temporarily block the state’s near-total abortion ban while a contentious court case plays out. North Dakota lawmakers had passed a bill in 2007 that would outlaw abortion in the state within 30 days if the US Supreme Court ever overturned Roe v. Wade. This is only now being contested. The high court asserted that residents have a “fundamental right” to abortions that preserve pregnant women’s life and health. Chief Justice Jon Jensen responded: “The North Dakota Constitution guarantees North Dakota citizens the right to enjoy and defend life and the right to pursue and obtain safety, which necessarily includes that a pregnant woman has a fundamental right to obtain an abortion to preserve her life or her health.”
SOURCE: InForum.com, by Jeremy Turley, 16 March 2023
New Mexico: Governor signs bill overriding local abortion bans
A New Mexico abortion rights bill is now law after the governor signed the measure to override local ordinances in the state aimed at limiting access to abortion procedures and medications.
Reproductive health clinics in New Mexico offer abortion procedures to patients from other states too, including Texas, with strict abortion bans.
The new law also aims to ensure access to gender-affirming healthcare related to distress over gender identity that doesn’t match a person’s assigned sex.
SOURCE: abcnews, by Morgan Lee, 16 March 2023
Colorado moves to make abortions and contraception free and protect those from other states who seek services there
Abortion is already legal in Colorado. They ensured unrestricted access to abortion in state law last year before Roe was struck down. Now they want to cement their status as a safe haven for women by making abortions and contraception free. A Democratic-led bill that advanced on 15 March at the state Capitol would require most health insurance plans to cover medical abortions, contraception, vasectomies and treatment of sexually transmitted infections — without out-of-pocket costs.
Not all insurers would provide cost-free coverage, and there would be an exemption for religious institutions, based on federal law.
A second bill would protect patients who travel to Colorado for services, and their providers, from outside legal threats. Girls as young as 12 could receive contraception and abortion referrals without notice or consent from parents. Additional bills are being designed to crack down on abortion misinformation, as well as protect care providers and women against punitive laws in other states. All are expected to pass.
SOURCES: Axios, by John Frank, 15 March 2023 ; SOURCE: 9 News, by Jennifer Meckles, 10 March 2023
Nebraska voters could decide if abortion is a constitutional right
Two constitutional amendments in the Nebraska Legislature would give voters an opportunity to decide if abortion is a constitutional right. A hearing was held on 16 March on the amendments. Sen. Megan Hunt of Omaha introduced the amendments, which would add reproductive freedom to the list of inherent rights in Nebraska’s Constitution. They would change the law to say that every individual has a fundamental right to make decisions about all matters relating to pregnancy. If passed, Nebraskans would be able to vote on the amendments in the 2024 general election. Sen. Hunt said: “People in Nebraska do not want the government to control their healthcare decisions. They do not want politicians coming between themselves and their doctors.” She admitted that she doesn’t expect the amendments to leave the committee, but she said she wanted to start a conversation around giving the choice back to the voters.
SOURCE: KLKNTV, by McKenzie Johnson, 17 March 2023
Wyoming outlaws abortion pills
On 17 March, Wyoming prohibited abortion pills in what NARAL Pro-Choice America called a “first of its kind” law, and also enacted a near-total ban on abortion. Republican Gov. Mark Gordon signed a bill making it a felony to prescribe, sell, or use “any drug for the purpose of procuring or performing an abortion”. Violators could face up to six months in prison and a $9,000 fine.
SOURCE: CNN, by Jay Croft, 18 March 2023
A Texas man is suing his ex-wife’s friends for helping her get an abortion (after she filed for a divorce)
Three women in Texas are being sued for more than $1 million each for allegedly helping another woman get abortion pills to end her pregnancy. The woman’s ex-husband filed a wrongful death lawsuit in civil court in Galveston County after his ex-wife had divorced him. He’s also planning to sue the manufacturer of the abortion pills. But he says in the filing that he’s not targeting his ex-wife.
Cynthia Soohoo, a law professor at the City University of New York, sees this case as part of a larger strategy by some US anti-abortion groups to treat fetuses as full persons under the law….TBC…
SOURCE: National Public Radio, by Sarah McCammon, 13 March 2023